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Gambling and not taking chances

November 13, 2009

From Cecil B. to Lehigh, posted May 8.

On one of my visits to Michelle, I stopped at the gas station down the block from her house. I had only a dollar on me, but spent 50 cents on a Little Debbie snack.

As I was waiting in line, I noticed some people were buying scratch-off lottery tickets. A young woman at the counter asked for another ticket, and told a man next to her it was her last for the day.

I’ve never been much for the lottery. Winning millions of dollars is appealing, sure, but I’d usually rather buy a candy bar (I have a terrible sweet tooth) and know I will enjoy myself for five minutes than buy a one-in-millions chance that I might walk out a rich man.

That being said, I’ve always been fascinated by the lottery.

I had a friend in high school who was fond of saying that all you need in life is cigarettes and hope.

I’ve been reminded of this saying time and again whenever I stop at a gas station, especially one in an economically impoverished neighborhood. Quite a few people will walk out with a pack of cigarettes, scratching off a lottery ticket, only to toss it into the trash. Cigarettes and hope. Fleeting hope, perhaps, but hope nonetheless.

I don’t know if Michelle buys lottery tickets, but the way she raises her kids seems to suggest she doesn’t. She doesn’t take chances with them. If she doesn’t think someone is a good influence in their lives, she doesn’t mince words telling them so. Discipline is not a foreign concept.

I think the effect is hugely positive. When Pepon brought in the pictures, he asked the kids and their friends what they saw in them. I looked at them too, and was struck by one thing: their confidence. Their poses were not conspicuously intense, as some kids are when they try to be tough to cover insecurity, or shrinking away from the camera. They seemed comfortable in their shoes (or socks in one case) and their place in the world. See a picture below.

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